A fetal homicide bill, introduced by Colorado state Republicans in the wake of a grisly attack on a pregnant woman, is based on boilerplate legislation promoted by a leading anti-choice organization.
Americans United for Life (AUL), a national group, emphasized in a press release that the Colorado bill was “based on AUL model legislation.”
The bill’s connection to AUL was first spotlighted by state Sen. Andy Kerr (D-Lakewood) during a senate debate last week.
“It’s disappointing that Republicans decided to go the route of using template language rather than collaborating with actual Coloradans,” Kerr told Rewire via email. “In Colorado, we need Colorado solutions, not mandates from outside groups.”
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A bill, called the Crimes Against Unborn Children Act, is listed among the organization’s boilerplate legislation, and the text of the AUL bill contains some of the exact wording of Colorado’s SB 268.
For example, the key “personhood” portion of both bills is identical, saying a person “includes an unborn child at every stage of gestation from conception until live birth.”
Also identical in the AUL model and SB 268 are the three controversial exclusions: “an act committed by the mother of an unborn child; a medical procedure performed by a physician or other licensed medical professional at the request of a mother of an unborn child or the mother’s legal guardian; or the lawful dispensation or administration of lawfully prescribed medication.”
Colorado Senate President Bill Cadman has said these exclusions “provide a protection for a woman to do with her body as she desires,” but women’s health advocates have argued that they are vague, omitting any specific reference to abortion, and could lead to criminal investigations of women as well as doctors.
AUL’s website lists “Establishing Fetal-Homicide Legislation” as a key component of its goal to overturn Roe v. Wade. “AUL knows that reversing Roe v. Wade can be accomplished through deliberate, legal strategies that accumulate victories, build momentum, and restore a culture of life,” the group’s website says.
Still, Colorado Public Radio reported last week that AUL does not aim to restrict abortion rights with the fetal homicide legislation it is promoting.
Organizers of Colorado’s three failed “personhood” amendments, including the author of the state’s 2014 measure, said they are opposing SB 286 because it doesn’t provide equal protection under the law for fetuses and zygotes (fertilized eggs). Neither does it prevent abortion, they said.
Colorado’s Republican-controlled senate is expected to pass SB 286, but state observers say it will likely be defeated in the state house, which is controlled by Democrats. Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper has signaled an openness to some type of fetal homicide legislation.
Democrats during senate debate on the “personhood” bill proposed an amendment, defeated in a party-line vote, to delete text defining a “person” under the bill as an “unborn child at every stage of gestation from conception until live birth.”